Local Bus Market Study provides useful insight ahead of Buses Bill, says Mistral Bus and Coach chief operating officer
The recently released Local Bus Market Study does not necessarily break any new ground but provides a valuable tool as a single document that captures the current market position in advance of the forthcoming ‘Buses Bill’, says Mistral Bus and Coach chief operating officer Steve Low.
Mr Low’s critique follows the release in late January of the KPMG report, commissioned by the Department for Transport.
The report looked at the condition of the bus market in England outside London, the current legislative tools available and, importantly, the issues that should be considered by authorities looking to improve their local bus services.
Mr Low said: “Whilst prepared for the benefit of the Department for Transport, KPMG are themselves keen to point out that the study ‘does not undertake an appraisal of alternative market interventions’ – shorthand for not it making any recommendations on the pros and cons of route franchising, but nevertheless it neatly summarises the key factors influencing the provincial bus market.
“Key themes that are raised unsurprisingly flag the challenges that the market faces with regard to austerity, devolution and sometimes conflicting objectives between operators and local government.
“In reality, these are issues faced and dealt with on a daily basis by most operators, and the report itself concedes that ‘..the local bus market is complex….with multiple factors…influenced by operators and LTA’s’.
“There is however common ground and the study recognises that ‘LTA’s, operators and Passengers all want long term growth, improved network performance, high service quality and innovation.’
“Whether this can be produced under the current trend for partnership working or if the forthcoming Buses Bill paves the way for a move toward a more interventionist policy we don’t yet know, but one thing is clear ‘..passenger’s respond positively to high quality services and low fares.’
“Creating an environment that delivers this is paramount and one that we all hope the Buses Bill properly addresses.”
The Urban Transport Group said of the Buses Bill: “The Government is planning new Buses Legislation which will make it easier for local transport authorities to franchise networks of bus services.
“This would allow bus services outside London to be provided in the same way as they are in London, and the same way that national rail services are provided.”
Read more about the Local Bus Market Study and its key highlights here.
Analysis by Tim Deakin of Route One here.
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